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Thread: VBM Domobar has died

  1. #1
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    VBM Domobar has died

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    About 11 years ago I bought a VBM Domobar single boiler. I had some initial problems as I left the steam setting on overnight burnt out the element. This was replaced under warranty as there was nothing in the instructions that told me to refill the tank after steaming if the machine is to be left on.

    The machine is mainly used for me as my wife does not like coffee. I guess on average I would make 10 – 12 coffees per week, so there is not a lot of activity. The machine is turned off after I have made my morning coffee.

    It has worked fine since then with the occasional trip to the workshop for a service, but nothing very serious. I have cleaned it every three or four weeks and de-scale it every six months or so. It has been about two years since it was in the workshop for a service.

    A couple of days ago I got an electric shock when I was making my coffee and immediately took it back to the workshop for advice. I just spoke to the technician and he said that there were several problems they had identified, mainly caused by a buildup of scale causing leakages which have resulted in the electrical problem. He basically said that the machine was only useful for spare parts unless I was prepared to spend a lot of money on it. He recommended that I buy a new machine. By the way they do not sell machines, so I don't see that he was motivated by trying to sell me one.

    I am rather disappointed that this has only lasted 11 years, as it was reasonably expensive and I thought it was built like a truck to last forever.

    Is the problem the machine; the Adelaide water I am using which is quite hard; or is this really the expected life of one of these devices?

    Secondly, does anyone have a recommendation for a single boiler in the $1500 – $2000 range. I already have an excellent grinder.

  2. #2
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    G'day Tony...

    Is this a VBM Piccolo?

    Mal.

  3. #3
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    I think so, but I don't remember it being called that at the time. I got it from coffee parts

  4. #4
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    Hmm...

    Disappointing. There is no reason for this machine not to last 20 (or many more) years- however, no machine will last 20 years without regular service.

    In my opinion you were damn lucky to get away with a freebie element as user abuse is not covered by warranty but you must have had a very considerate technician/sales outlet.

    You don't get a new car if you crash yours because you don't know how to drive.

    Lesson for all here.

    Espresso machines need to be serviced- like cars. Abuse them or ignore them and you'll pay- big time.

    Just today an Alex Duetto never serviced and plumbed directly to the mains with neither filter nor PLV. Pump and motor both rooted before I looked any further. Guy wants to know why a 10yo machine should cost $1k+ to repair. Let me count the ways....
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Sadly $1000 doesn't go far nowadays.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Caffeinator, but I'm not really sure what your point is here. I have never been aware that water needed to be filtered. I have always filled it manually with a jug using water filtered through a puratap as Adelaide water is pretty unpleasant straight out of the tap. I also have no idea what a PLV is. Can you please explain? I have also picked from your response that you recommend regular servicing. How frequently?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    As a matter of interest Tony who did you take it to? I use Complete Cafe Services, Unley, have found them to be very good, could be worth giving them a call.

  8. #8
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    Espresso Maintenance in Welland

  9. #9
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Could be worth getting a second opinion.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonytonytony View Post
    Thanks Caffeinator, but I'm not really sure what your point is here. I have never been aware that water needed to be filtered. I have always filled it manually with a jug using water filtered through a puratap as Adelaide water is pretty unpleasant straight out of the tap. I also have no idea what a PLV is. Can you please explain? I have also picked from your response that you recommend regular servicing. How frequently?
    Tony, Tony, Tony....

    I hope you adequately research your next machine as so far, not good- at all.

    Good retailers will support you and provide you with the advice to get the best from your kit. Your problems are the result of terrible water and lack of suitable service advice and preventative maintenance.

    You'd buy a good example of what you have used for perhaps $500. Clearly the service guy could see an easy $500 spend: i.e not worth doing unless you have the skills to do it yourself.

    As for your next machine- if there is one, choose a sales outlet which can provide you with the advice you need to have a good time in your specific circumstances. It may cost a little more than buying a box, but it will likely repay you with more than 11 years.

    Re what should I do next time, there are plenty of good websites (including those of some of the CS sponsors) with comprehensive advice on how to get the best from your machine and how to look after it.

    Good luck with next one and hopefully, lesson learned.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    Tony, Tony, Tony....

    I hope you adequately research your next machine as so far, not good- at all.

    Good retailers will support you and provide you with the advice to get the best from your kit. Your problems are the result of terrible water and lack of suitable service advice and preventative maintenance.

    You'd buy a good example of what you have used for perhaps $500. Clearly the service guy could see an easy $500 spend: i.e not worth doing unless you have the skills to do it yourself.

    As for your next machine- if there is one, choose a sales outlet which can provide you with the advice you need to have a good time in your specific circumstances. It may cost a little more than buying a box, but it will likely repay you with more than 11 years.

    Re what should I do next time, there are plenty of good websites (including those of some of the CS sponsors) with comprehensive advice on how to get the best from your machine and how to look after it.

    Good luck with next one and hopefully, lesson learned.
    I'm not sure that much of this answers Tony's questions. He doesn't need a PLV as he's filling the machine manually. Hard to tell the exact quality of the filtration being used (nor how often filters are replaced) but he is at least using some sort of filtered water. He does get the machine serviced and would like to know how often you'd recommend.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    I'm not sure that much of this answers Tony's questions. He doesn't need a PLV as he's filling the machine manually. Hard to tell the exact quality of the filtration being used (nor how often filters are replaced) but he is at least using some sort of filtered water. He does get the machine serviced and would like to know how often you'd recommend.
    I was using another example of insufficient information and research doing major damage to a machine which can be plumbed and ultimately a very disappointed owner. You don't know? Best ask.

    Adelaide is notorious for high water hardness and it too frequently causes major damage. Tony may well have only filtration for drinking water rather than espresso.

    Whether the descaling of the machine was carried out correctly we also don't know.

  13. #13
    Member Hoggy42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Could be worth getting a second opinion.


    Tony I'd second this idea. I'd also want to know how much is "a lot of money" as I can't see any reason why your machine can't be as good as new again.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    On the other hand, perhaps Tony has a case of upgraditis and is in fact hankering after a new machine.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonytonytony View Post
    About 11 years ago I bought a VBM Domobar single boiler. I had some initial problems as I left the steam setting on overnight burnt out the element. This was replaced under warranty as there was nothing in the instructions that told me to refill the tank after steaming if the machine is to be left on.

    The machine is mainly used for me as my wife does not like coffee. I guess on average I would make 10 – 12 coffees per week, so there is not a lot of activity. The machine is turned off after I have made my morning coffee.

    It has worked fine since then with the occasional trip to the workshop for a service, but nothing very serious. I have cleaned it every three or four weeks and de-scale it every six months or so. It has been about two years since it was in the workshop for a service.

    A couple of days ago I got an electric shock when I was making my coffee and immediately took it back to the workshop for advice. I just spoke to the technician and he said that there were several problems they had identified, mainly caused by a buildup of scale causing leakages which have resulted in the electrical problem. He basically said that the machine was only useful for spare parts unless I was prepared to spend a lot of money on it. He recommended that I buy a new machine. By the way they do not sell machines, so I don't see that he was motivated by trying to sell me one.

    I am rather disappointed that this has only lasted 11 years, as it was reasonably expensive and I thought it was built like a truck to last forever.

    Is the problem the machine; the Adelaide water I am using which is quite hard; or is this really the expected life of one of these devices?

    Secondly, does anyone have a recommendation for a single boiler in the $1500 – $2000 range. I already have an excellent grinder.
    Using un-softened Adelaide water for 11 years can kill a machine so the technician's report is plausible. Needless to say an appropriate water filter should be part of the new machine package moving forward.

    One machine for your short list is the Lelit Victoria. It has a 58mm group with PID control and pre infusion. It has an auto fill boiler while steaming and auto refill after steaming so no risk of burning out the element! If you want to stick with the E61 group head then an ECM Classika PID would be worth considering.

    charlie
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